Feb 24, 2011

Proudly Cincinnati Beyond Our Borders: Jillian Strunk

During this year’s annual freshman convocation, President Williams unveiled an aggressive plan to place the University of Cincinnati among the top 100 universities in the country. He identified student study abroad as one of the primary vehicles driving the university’s growth, saying, “To educate tomorrow’s citizens, we must expand opportunities for global engagement in our curriculum.”

In an ongoing series of posts, UC Where You Are will take a look at the students who are already making strides toward the president’s goal. This series will focus on the unique experiences and learning opportunities afforded to students who are currently studying abroad, most of whom are grant or scholarship recipients who might otherwise not had the opportunity to contribute their experiences to the global classroom.

We begin our series by introducing you to Jillian Strunk, a senior from Bay Village, a community located just west of Cleveland. As an International Affairs major, Jillian jumped at the chance to study abroad in Morocco this quarter, where she’ll have first-hand exposure to the Arabic language. Here’s her story:

Let’s start with the basics: What is your major at UC, when do you expect to graduate, and what are your plans after graduation?
JS: I’m an International Affairs major with a focus on Middle Eastern Studies. I’m a senior this year and I hope to graduate either in June after returning from Morocco or in August. I would like to work for the government and do interpreting work in Arabic and German.

UC: Why did you choose the University of Cincinnati? What did the campus (or your program of study) offer that other colleges or campuses did not?
JS: I visited all the schools I applied to and something about UC just felt right. I really like how compact and city-like the campus was. I love being in the city and I really wanted an urban atmosphere so UC was perfect. I also have family in Dayton and UC was close enough to them that I still have support yet far enough away from my family that I felt independent.

UC: So, when did you decide to study abroad? How did you come to choose Morocco as your location?
JS: In high school I did a study abroad in Germany. It was a great experience and I knew I wanted to do it again. I started learning Arabic two years ago and decided to do a study abroad in the Middle East/North Africa region so that I can become better at the language. Arabic is an extremely difficult language and I need all the experience I can get. Between the classes I will be taking and the weekend excursions, I felt the Morocco program had a lot to offer.

UC: What will you be studying there?

JS: I will be taking classes on Arabic, as well as Islamic Society and Politics, Peace and Conflict Resolution, and Three Religions, Three Peoples. These classes will help me understand Islamic society and history better, as well as the religious and political conflicts that are going on today.

UC: How do you anticipate your study abroad work to influence your further career options?
JS: I am hoping that studying in Morocco will help me to become fluent in Arabic. This will help me get the interpreting job that I am hoping for. It will also give me more insight to Arabic and Islamic culture. This will also help me greatly in getting an interpreting job.

UC: You're a grant recipient, right? Which grant, and what were the criteria to apply?
JS: I have a grant from the study abroad office at UC called the UC International Student Grant. You have to be a full time student, have a GPA higher than a 2.0, and be studying abroad with a UC approved program. You also have to do something for the community related to your study abroad. I chose to do a blog about my trip and when I return I will print out pictures and blog entries and have them bound. I plan on leaving a copy of this in the study abroad office so that others can look through it.

I am also a Cincinnatus scholarship recipient and I have transferred that to my study abroad as well.

Jillian leaves for Morocco on Jan. 26, so we’ll plan to check in on her once she’s had a chance to get settled in her new environment. If you’d like more frequent updates on her progress, you can follow along with Jillian’s adventure on her blog, http://www.jillianstrunk.blogspot.com/.

In the mean time, stay tuned for future profiles of students who are exemplifying what it means to be Proudly Cincinnati beyond the borders of UC’s campus.

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